In autumn 2002 the first students journey to Chaibasa was organized by the Ecumenical Forum Berlin Marzahn and was financially supported by the Evangelical church development service (EED) and by the “Nord-Süd-Brücken” foundation (North-South bridges). The experiences collected during this journey finally lead to the foundation of the Indian Forum. A short field report by Roman Bansen follows:
After a rather strenuous journey, we started our tour in the former capital of the British crown colony of India, in Kolkata (formerly Calcutta). Instantly we got to know the extreme discrepancies and contrasts of this city, that on the hand produced all four Nobel prize winners of India and still has some of the Victorian glamour of the British rule, but on the other hand is overcrowded with waste, dirt and pure poverty almost everywhere you look. For example we watched a family with several children in the alley bordering our hostel, vegetating beneath a few wooden boards and having to live from leftover food and dirty water.
After a few days we went on to Chaibasa, where several hundred very enthusiastic and cheerful people welcomed us on the following day. Apparently endless dancing and singing, just out of pure delight about our coming, really plucked our heartstrings.
After we had settled in in the guesthouse, the oldest building on the compound, built by the first German missionaries in the mid 19th century, and after the general interest in us had seized at least a bit, we started to put our program into practice, which included visits to multiple congregations, which were partly pleasantly isolated far in the mountains, from where we enjoyed wonderful sunsets and sunrises.
Furthermore we had brought two computers with us and purchased five more on a tour to Ranchi. They were installed in a computer room, that had been especially equipped the preceding days, and first introductions were given to the computers.
Several times we visited the single classes and schools on the compounds and spoke with the students. Helping with the rice harvest in terms of having a look how it works, was also part of the programme, as well as the participation in the church services in the church that is located on the School Compound.
After leaving Chaibasa and therefore also leaving our newly obtained friends there, our journey went on to Khunti first and from there on to Ranchi, where we spent a few more days in the Human Resource Development Centre (HRDC). Finally we went on by plane to Delhi. After another day of sight seeing there we went home to Germany.